What is the right price for history?
Preservation of Crow Wing County’s historic building, the former jail that now houses the museum, had commissioners wondering about costs, who should pay and what voters wanted nearly 40 years ago.
At their committee of the whole meeting, Crow Wing County commissioners considered a proposal to seek grant funding that could cover half the cost of $266,000 in building repairs.
Commissioner Paul Thiede said he was curious why no one was present representing the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum. Administrator Tim Houle said the dollars were needed for preservation of the physical structure not for operations and the building was built by and is owned by the county.
If matching grant dollars are available, the cost to the county could be a 50 percent match. The county provides the historical society with an appropriation of $31,500 for operations. The county covers the utilities and cleaning costs for the building.
Board Chairwoman Rosemary Franzen said voters expressed their wishes to keep the building. In 1976, voters were asked on the ballot about converting the jail to the historic society. It passed 15,000 to 3,000. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom likened the discretionary ballot question to a “love reading.”
Thiede said voters may have been saying they didn’t want the building torn down, but he wondered what they wanted as far as spending to maintain it.
On the list of repairs was the clay tile roof, shingles, fixing windows and doors, the copper drainage system, fixing stucco and an air-handling system and looking at the attic storage and ramp area because a load bearing wall was removed sometime in the past.
A deadline to apply for grants is May 2. A question before commissioners was whether to do the upgrades in phases.
Consensus from Thiede and Koering was in favor of moving forward with the needed repairs in one phase and applying for the grant.